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Courts / Law

Polk Man Lands His Plane in Lake Hancock

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Polk Sheriff's Office

The Polk Sheriff's Office is reporting Eric McCoy, 48, of Winter Haven successfully landed his 1946 North American Navion in Lake Hancock (located between Winter Haven and Lakeland) around noon today after his engine failed. He was not injured.

McCoy had taken off from Winter Haven airport and flew north when he began having engine trouble (misfiring; sputtering). The engine then completely failed. He told deputies his options were limited, so he decided to land in Lake Hancock and called in a “May Day” to the Bartow Municipal Airport tower. Fortunately, the plane has retractable landing gear, which made landing in water safer, though still very dangerous. He was able to safely “hard land” in the lake without power--the area where he landed was about four feet deep.

Harry Shannon of Winter Haven, and owner of Amphibians Plus Inc. located at the Bartow Municipal Airport in Bartow, heard the May Day call and immediately took off at Bartow Municipal and headed for Lake Hancock (a short distance way) to see if he could help McCoy. Shannon was able to land on Lake Hancock and motor to the site of the hard landing. McCoy was able to get out of the aircraft and climbed from the wing of his plane onto Shannon’s plane. Shannon then took off and returned to Bartow Municipal Airport.

McCoy was checked out by Polk County EMS—he had no injuries.  Deputies have notified both the Federal Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board.